We all face problems and adversities in life. From job loss to health problems to separation from friends and the loss of loved ones, these changes can disrupt our lives and sometimes knock us down. Living through tough times can also take a toll on our physical, mental, and emotional health. How we bounce back from these obstacles can determine how we’ll move forward in life.
While we can’t avoid hardships and tragedies, there are things we can do to adapt and pull through. Resilience or the ability to bounce back from difficulties is an important skill to develop to cope better during stressful times. While some people are born resilient, others are not. Fortunately, resilience skills can be learned and developed.
What is resilience?
Resilience is defined as the ability to adapt well in the face of stress or adversity. Facing traumas and tragedies gives us an opportunity to develop emotional resilience. Essentially, life has to knock you down first in order to bounce back and get up again. If you’ve struggled to survive hardships in the past, you can draw on past experiences to learn and grow.
Strategies to Build Resilience
Resilient people find ways to bounce back and come back stronger, instead of wallowing or letting problems take them down. Learning how to build resilience can help you maintain a sense of control and thrive in life. Here are 10 strategies for building resilience.
1. Accept and embrace change
While many of us hate or resist change, it is the only thing constant in the world. We will go through various changes whether we like them or not. This is why it is helpful to remind yourself that change is inevitable and necessary. By accepting that nothing stays the same, you can focus more of your time and effort on the things you have control of.
2. Practice self-care
One important part of learning how to build resilience is self-care. Engage in a healthy lifestyle to strengthen both your mind and body. This will help you adapt to stressful situations and lessen the toll of anxiety or depression.
Eat healthily and exercise daily
Both can give you strength and nourishment, especially during challenging times. Just be sure to avoid junk and processed foods and get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. You can try walking, jogging, biking, or even follow an online exercise video. Look for a routine that you enjoy and can keep up with.
Get enough sleep
Adequate sleep plays an important role in building resilience. This is because it enables us to process what we’ve learned and improves our ability to regulate emotions. Sleep, furthermore, is essential for building strong immunity and physical resilience. Aim to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night and develop good sleeping habits.
Don’t mask pain with substances
When problems seem overwhelming, it may be tempting to turn to drugs, alcohol, and other substances to “numb” your pain. While these can provide temporary relief, they can also cause more harm and set you up for abuse. It is best to give your mind and body the right resources to face hurdles and alleviate stress.
Research has shown that incorporating mindfulness increases positive emotions while reducing pain, fear, and stress. It works by helping people focus on the present moment and accept their experiences without any judgment. You can practice mindfulness through journaling, yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises.
Be kind to yourself
Not everyone responds to or handles obstacles the same way. Don’t be so hard on yourself when you make mistakes, fail, or take a bit long in making progress. Self-compassion can help build or improve resilience, as well as promote confidence and happiness.
3. Find meaning and purpose
Your mistakes and circumstances don’t define your value as a person. You can prevent problems and obstacles from overwhelming you by engaging in activities that bring purpose and meaning to your life. This can give you the motivation to work towards a life that you believe is satisfying and fulfilling. Make sure to pursue activities that are meaningful and important to you.
- Volunteer or help others in need
- Support or spread awareness about a cause that matters to you
- Donate to a charity
- Pursue interests and hobbies
- Surround yourself with positive and inspiring people
4. Learn from your mistakes
Surviving tough times can teach you important lessons about yourself and the world around you. By turning hardships into learning opportunities, you can reassess your life and make positive changes. If you, for example, are dealing with economic troubles, find out what caused or contributed to your problem and what you can do in the future to prevent it from happening.
You should know that there is also growth after facing traumas and adversities. This is known as post-traumatic growth, or unexpected positive changes that can result from stressful and terrible experiences. It can happen naturally or be facilitated in different ways. Post-traumatic growth, however, is not the same as resilience; it is more about positive personal changes.
5. Reach out and build strong connections
When facing adversities, it is sometimes easier to pretend they didn’t happen or wallow into your sadness. It may be due to the fear of being judged or seen as a burden, or just feeling tired to reach out. Caring friends and loved ones, however, are likely to feel grateful and appreciated that you reach out and confide in them.
While the pandemic has made it difficult to connect face-to-face, you can still reach out to loved ones through a phone call, messaging app, or video call. You can also expand your social network or make new friends via volunteering, taking a class, or joining a club. As you build new friendships, try to avoid negative people or those who constantly judge and criticize you.
Developing more real friendships and relationships can help you deal with stress better. This is because you have a strong support system when times get tough or when you get knocked down. Compassionate and empathetic friends can give you strength and boost your mood, which is beneficial in building emotional resilience.
6. Build your self-confidence
Resilient people trust their abilities, especially when dealing with and responding to a crisis. If you want to learn how to build resilience, it is important to believe in yourself or have confidence in your abilities. This will enable you to take more risks, develop a strong sense of self, and become successful in your personal and professional life. You can also work on your self-confidence with the following tips:
- Remind yourself of your achievements.
- Recognize what you’re good at.
- Don’t compare yourself to others (we are single and incomparable).
- Cheer yourself on.
- Try to remain calm when under pressure.
- Connect with understanding and compassionate people.
7. Set goals
Establish reasonable goals and take small steps every day to achieve whatever it is you want to accomplish. Engage in the activities you enjoy doing like creative projects around your home or creating a fitness routine that you can keep up with. Look for and focus on the tasks you can do today, instead of concentrating on things that seem out of your reach.
If you, for instance, find it hard to move forward due to the loss of a loved one, you can seek emotional support from friends or consider online therapy. The latter option lets you navigate your emotions better with the help of a mental health professional. The best part is you can do this anywhere you are.
8. Take action and work on solutions
Instead of worrying too much or waiting for problems to go away, initiate actions. By taking the first steps towards a solution, you can empower yourself and gain self-confidence to get other stuff done. Learning to take decisive actions in the face of adversity allows you to build psychological resilience and make situations less demanding.
When faced with a problem, think of or list the things you can do to manage the situation. Don’t let yourself become numb or paralyzed through difficult times. Instead of waiting for someone to save the day, muster the courage and act quickly to avoid prolonging the crisis.
9. Try to maintain a hopeful outlook
It is easy to feel demotivated when things aren’t going your way. Maintaining optimism, however, allows you to make changes and move forward. It also enables you to expect good things and reframe negative thoughts and mindsets. There’s always a reward in viewing challenges as an opportunity to overcome adversity, rise above, and grow stronger.
Do take note that positive or hopeful thinking does not mean ignoring problems. It is more about accepting and understanding that obstacles are only temporary. You can always equip yourself with the resources and skills to fight the setbacks you face and deal with difficult situations better.
10. Seek professional help through online therapy
The road to building resilience is not always an easy one. Sometimes, people feel stuck or are struggling to move forward. Fortunately, professional help is always available. Licensed mental health professionals like psychologists or therapists can help manage your emotions and develop strategies to continue moving forward.
If you’ve experienced something stressful or traumatic and find it difficult to perform your normal routines, don’t hesitate to seek help. You can also consider online therapy, so you can get the support you need wherever you are. This is more convenient than face-to-face sessions, as it lets you practice social distancing while protecting your physical and mental health.
You don’t have to face your journey all alone. If you’re having difficulty making progress in building resilience, don’t hesitate to seek help or consider online therapy at Calmerry. The right support, strategies, and professional guidance can help you focus on the aspects of adversities you can manage.